Philly City Council passes LGBT equality bill

Philadelphia City Council has passed a bill aimed at ensuring equal treatment and expanding health coverage for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the city.

The bill provides tax incentives to private employers who extend insurance to the same-sex partners of their employees, and it strengthens legal rights and protections for homosexual couples in several ways.

It requires that non-union city government health plans provide transgender health services, including surgery. And it provides a separate tax credit to private businesses that do the same.

Dane Menkin, who began life as a woman but is now a transgendered male, spoke to City Council on behalf of the bill. He says transgender equality in health services and insurance matters.

“You know, if you’re male on your health insurance, then it doesn’t have access to gynecological services, ” he said. “If you’re female on your health insurance, then it’s going to cause a discrepancy and question when you walk in with your kids’ ear infection and they see `female-female,’ but then look at me.”

The bill passed 14 to 3. One of those opposed, Brian O’Neill said he’s proud of supporting past gay rights bills.

“But the changes in the medical insurance for transgender surgery — I’m not there yet,” he said.

The bill was sponsored by City Councilman Jim Kenney.

“The spirit of the bill acknowledges people’s humanity, acknowledges their citizenship and their full rights to participate in everything the law has to offer everyone else,” he said

Mayor Michael Nutter says he’ll sign the bill. 

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